On any given night in the United States, nearly 450,000 people who are legally presumed innocent sit in jail only because they cannot afford to pay a monetary bail amount. Today in our state, we have a two tiered justice system where poor people are punished more harshly than people with money. Locking up people before trial because they cannot afford to pay bail is a leading cause of mass incarceration in Tennessee and elsewhere.
People suffer in local jails while awaiting trial, often for low-level offenses, and many working Tennesseans lose their jobs because they are unable to make bail and return to their homes and places of employment while waiting for their day in court. Most importantly, putting bail out of reach for thousands of low-income people violates our fundamental principle of innocent until proven guilty.